USA--Victims say USA Gymnastics are “behaving like bishops”

USA--Victims say USA Gymnastics are “behaving like bishops”

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec 15, 2016

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)

It's dreadfully disheartening that USA Gymnastics officials are following the callous course of Catholic officials in child sex abuse and cover up cases. We’re especially upset that these athletic officials are fighting 

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2016/12/15/20-year-toll-368-gymnasts-allege-sexual-exploitation/95198724/

We applaud the IndyStar's thorough and troubling investigation that shows 368 youngsters have reported abuse in gymnastics. At the same time, however, we quibble with how it depicts decision-making by gymnastic officials. Those officials "failed to alert" police and "failed to warn future employers" about predators, IndyStar reporters wrote. We disagree. 

Failure is when one misdials trying to reach 911. Failure is when one swings at a baseball and misses. That’s not what’s happening here. These are cold-hearted choices, made day after day after day, by adults who claim to care about kids. These are deliberately selfish decisions to put one’s careers, coffers and comfort ahead of the safety of innocent and vulnerable youngsters. 

IndyStar, however, nails it with this observation: “USA Gymnastics focuses its efforts to stop sexual abuse on educating members instead of setting strict ground rules and enforcing them.”

In other words, gymnastic officials are doing what church officials do – adopt a slew of policies, procedures and protocols that sound good on paper but are meaningless in real life, because they aren’t enforced. Again, shame on them.

Firing, demoting, disciplining, kicking out and reporting to law enforcement every current or former gymnastics staff or volunteer who ignored or hid child sex crimes – that’s what will make an immediate difference in keeping young athletes safer. So will two other reforms – eliminating the statute of limitations on child sex crimes and increasing penalties on those who refuse to report them to police.

No matter what lawmakers or church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches, schools or other institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

 (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, davidgclohessy@gmail.com), Barbara Dorris (314-503-0003 cell, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)

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